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Vocabulary about history matters when you are learning a new language because it will help you become a better reader and develop background knowledge. Mastering this kind of vocabulary will also allow you to express yourself in a more precise way orally. By knowing history terms, you will have access to more complex texts about the past of France, newspaper articles and texts about history and related fields. So, today we have prepared an article in which you are going to  find a collection of terms and concepts relevant to the study of literature and history.  Here you are going to get familiar with:

  • some general terminology to talk about history
  • historical eras
  • literary terms

Do you want to go a step further in your French learning? Then, let’s take off!

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Some General Terminology To Talk About History

You want to express an opinion in French after having read an article or heard the news, but the words escape you. The worst is that you have something interesting to tell and you know the right words in your mother tongue, but not in French. Maybe while you read this, you are thinking: “been there, done that.” Well, to avoid the situation, study the following words:

Useful History Terms – Vocabulaire utile à connaître en histoire

colonialism colonialisme
monarch monarque
emperor empereur
feudalismféodalisme, féodalité
constitutional monarchymonarchie constitutionnelle
communism communisme
working classla classe ouvrière
middle classla bourgeoisie
upper classla haute société
democracyla démocratie
dictatorshipune dictature
fascist fasciste
revolutionla révolution
The French RevolutionLa Révolution française
revoltune révolte
coupun coup d’état
demonstration manifestation
the First World Warla Première Guerre mondiale
the Second World Warla Seconde Guerre mondiale
the Constitutionla Constitution
the lawla loi

Historical Eras

Have you ever wondered why we divide history into different periods? Well, there are different reasons. Periodising history helps us identify events chronologically and understand more clearly the characteristics of each time as well as the complexity of the changes that have occured over time. Let’s see a classification in French:

Historical eras – Les époques historiques

Prehistoric timesLa préhistoire
Paleolithic erale paléolithique
Neolithic era le néolithique
Early civilizationcivilisation primitive
the Middle AgesLe Moyen Âge
the Renaissancela Renaissance
Early 18th Centuryle Début du XVIIIe siècle
Late 18th Centuryla fin du XVIIIe siècle
Modern Timesles temps modernes, l'époque moderne
the contemporary eral'époque contemporaine

Literary Terms

These are places where cultural diversity, literature, art, cinema, dialogue and debate are protagonists. In these cultural paradises, you can borrow lots of books, comics and films. So, let’s see some of the most relevant words to talk about literary works.

Literary Terms – Vocabulaire utile en littérature

a writerun écrivain
an authorun auteur, une auteure
a playwright, a dramatistun dramaturge
a poetun poète, une poétesse
an editor un éditeur
a publishing houseune maison d’édition
a book, a work, a publication un ouvrage
a collection, an anthologyun recueil
literary genresles genres littéraires
a novel un roman
a short storyune nouvelle
a historical novelun roman historique
a thrillerun roman à suspense
a detective story un roman policier
a crime novelun polar
a science-fiction novelun roman de science fiction
a novel of social criticismun roman social
a fairy-tale un conte de fées
a romance novelun roman à l’eau de rose
an epistolary novel un roman épistolaire
a taleun conte
a biographyune biographie
an autobiographyune autobiographie
a poemun poème
a theatre playune pièce de théâtre
a comic bookune BD, une bande dessinée
a graphic novelun roman graphique

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Take some times to read more articles we have written for you to enrich your French vocabulary and improve your language level.

Here with the list of vocabulary worksheets on many kinds of topics: